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Word war erupts over peace talks

LUCENA CITY, Philippines—The outlook is bleak for the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations between the government and the communist insurgents after the latest heated exchange from both parties.

Luis Jalandoni, chief peace negotiator of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), on Wednesday assailed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles for her alleged “malicious kind of preconditioning” to the revived peace talks.

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“It is Secretary Deles who is engaged in an extremely malicious kind of preconditioning. She is setting such a foolish precondition to formal peace talks as getting rid of existing agreements like The Hague Joint Declaration, the Jasig (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) and Carhrihl (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law),” Jalandoni said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer.

“By such preconditioning, Secretary Deles obstructs the efforts to achieve an agreement on social and economic reforms and a possible truce and cooperation before the end of the current Aquino administration,” he said.

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The NDFP is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that has been engaged in a protracted peace negotiation with the government for the past 27 years.

Hope for the resumption of the peace talks were rekindled following last week’s dinner meeting in Amsterdam between Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other government officials, CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison, Jalandoni and other key NDFP members.

Both parties described the meeting as “bridge building” and “good start” toward the possible resumption of the aborted peace talks.

But Jalandoni made it clear that their return to the negotiating table still depended on the release of more than 500 political prisoners and 17 NDFP consultants languishing in jails across the country on various criminal charges.

On Monday, Deles hit the NDFP demands for the release of political prisoners, arguing that it would be difficult to resume the negotiations with rebels’ preconditions.

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TAGS: Communist Insurgency, Luis Jalandoni, peace process, Teresita Deles, word war
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